A Royal visit and a summer of celebration at Grafham Water

Fifty years after its construction, Prince Philip returns to open expanded facilities.

grafham07:56 Wednesday 25th May 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: A royal visitor is returning to Cambridgeshire today, returning to Grafham Water, 50 years after officially opening the reservoir there.
ANNOUNCER: The opning of Grafham Water by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh was the climax of years of planning, to meet the future demands for water in the Anglian region. This need for additional water storage in one of the driest parts of the country was identified in the early 1950s, after water shortages were experienced in the Northampton and Cambridgeshire areas.
DOTTY MCLEOD: I just love listening to that archive. I think it really evokes a completely different era. Prince Philip then back again today, unveiling a £28 million storage reservoir and pumping station at Grafham. Emma Staples is from Anglian Water and joins me now. So Emma what was it exactly that Prince Philip opened back then?
EMMA STAPLES: Morning Dotty. Well Prince Philip opened what is known as the Grafham Water Park at the moment, so to all of us we probably walked round it, cycled round it, maybe taking a boat out onto the reservoir. And that’s what flooded the valley in the Grafham, Diddington area back in 1966, and what the Duke of Edinburgh opened back then. Today we’ve still got the same issues. We’re a dry region. We’re a growing region. It’s a really prosperous region, so we need to make sure that we can accommodate the population growth and climate change and things going forward. So the new facility is just on the outskirts of Perry. It’s a huge storage tank and a massive pumping station, that will send water right throughout Cambridgeshire and all the way out to Milton Keynes and parts of Northamptonshire as well. So it’s looking to the future, but also looking back over the last five decades.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So what have you got planned for Prince Philip?
EMMA STAPLES: He’s coming along to unveil the new facilities, but this isn’t just about Anglian Water. This is about the local community, the people of Perry, of Grafham, of Buckden, that are our neighbours in that area. And we’ve got the community celebration at Fishing Lodge down on the banks of the reservoir this afternoon to really just to kick off a summer of celebrations. So there’s going to be loads going on over the summer if anyone wants to come and visit. Interestingly just one memory that we’ve had through from a number of people that have been writing into us about this is from when they put a penny in the dam while it was being constructed. And they walk past on a regular basis and have a look at the penny.
EMMA STAPLES: We’ve also got three generations of the Saxon family down there today, so the youngest Ben Saxon is Team GB and a full time member of the British Sailing Team. He learned to sail at Grafham. So did his dad, and his grandfather was the Chief Engineer on the reservoir. What a monumental task that would have been back in the ’60s. So three generations of them there today, and we’re just delighted to have all the community celebrating with us.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Sounds fantastic. Emma Staples there from Anglian Water, receiving a special visit from Prince Philip later.